Archive for October 25th, 2011
As WC’s patient readers know, WC is a serious fan of Sir Terry Pratchett. He’s the author of 50 books – 39 Discworld novels – and among British authors, only what’s her name, the lady that uses initials instead of her name, has sold more books.
WC has attended a Pratchett reading, shaken the master’s hand and even been photographed with Sir Terry. WC can say, without fear of contradiction, the Sir Terry is brilliant, not just as a writer but as a speaker and satirist. WC would rank his Q & A skills with those of Christopher Hitchens or Richard Dawkins. His work as a satirist is as good as anything in the English language.
So any lingering belief WC might have that the world is fair and that brilliance is always rewarded disappeared in 2007 when Sir Terry was diagnosed with posterior cortical atrophy, a rare variant of Alzheimer’s disease. A mind that sharp, a gift that great, should not be fogged with Alzheimer’s. It’s enough to make you wail and gnash your teeth.
Truth to tell, Pratchett is handling it better than WC. He appeared on BBC Radio 4 recently, discussing his new book, Snuff, and quite calmly how his disease is affecting him. The 13-minute interview is well worth your time.
WC is particularly impressed by Pratchett’s willingness to be completely candid about his disease and about his desire to choose the moment when he wants to die. Courage in the face of a syndrome that first destroys what makes us human is something special.
Over the next few days, in celebration of the interview, the new novel and the U.S. release of a new Pratchett movie, WC will emphasize some of Pratchett’s work. Be warned. (A search for “Pratchett” on this blog will demonstrate WC’s affection for this man and his writing. His nonfiction writing on the fantasy genre is particularly good.)
With sales of more than 65 million books, Pratchett can hardly be considered unknown or freshly discovered. But he’s still not well known in the U.S. WC recommends Going Postal (Amazon link), the novel, as a starting point. It’s brilliant.
While charts can be deceptive, they can also communicate and explain more effectively than columns of numbers ever can.
At a time when a certain kind of American citizen wants to demonize all Muslims because of the actions of al Qaeda, and a certain kind of Muslim wants to demonize all Christians because of the actions of a Koran-burning few in Florida, perhaps this simple chart can help us all keep our perspective:
The media focus relentlessly on the .00063% – that’s 6.3 hundred-thousandth of a percent – of Muslims who seek to attack America, and the .0000016% – that’s 1.6 ten-millionths of a percent – who burn Korans and make them seem vastly larger than they are. Worse, each side attributes the beliefs and motives of that minuscule minority to the group as a whole. The idea is silly.
Keep your perspective.